India Abroad: NDP MP Pat Martin speaks to Ajit Jain about Canada’s asbestos policy

Fri, Jan 8, 2010


NDP MP Pat Martin speaks to Ajit Jain about Canada’s asbestos policy

Jan 8 2010

The debate on Canada’s asbestos export has hit a fever pitch in recent times, with the focus turning on the country’s last operational mine in Quebec. While the industry leaders maintain that they export only to Third World companies with all necessary precautionary measures in place, the environmentalists say that Canada’s asbestos policy is driven not by health concerns but by Quebec politics. New Democratic Party Member of Parliament, Winnipeg Center in Manitoba, Pat Martin, who was once a blue collar worker at the asbestos mines of Yukon Territories, is also on the side of the environmentalists.

“I believe asbestos is Canada’s greatest shame on the international stage because we not only export asbestos, but also subsidize and promote the production and export of this serial killer asbestos, of which sadly, India is the number one buyer,” Martin told India Abroad in an exclusive interview December 28.

“Asbestos,” he said, “and tobacco are the two industries where the industry knows well it is killing people but it survives by junk science and aggressive lobbying of politicians.”

The Quebec mine, which has been around since 1879, is the last mine standing in a country where market forces have destroyed the industry over decades. “In Quebec, asbestos is a national pride, a very emotional question,” said Martin, explaining about the great asbestos strike of February 1949, and how politicians like Pierre Trudeau and Rene Levesque got involved. (more)

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